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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Big Guns Needed - Blister Beetles! #31

Attacking the bean plant
I intended on writing about other things, older things I haven't gotten to, but this Blister Beetle hatch is way to big to put off.

Although they feed on bees and grasshopper eggs, Blister Beetles are also known to attack leaves which they are doing to our crops. The Blister Beetle genus, Epicauta, is highly toxic to horses. Horses can die after eating alfalfa containing a few of these nasty creatures. The toxic chemical the beetle releases is cantharidin which is what doctors use to remove warts.

Several on the corn
Lance accidentally stumbled on a hatch last evening in our yard. There must have been a hundred in a cluster - a new hatch. He captured one in a plastic baggy, which ticked the beetle off and he spewed his green poison. Once Lance figured out what it was, he did a search through the garden and found two more hatches. One was under the cherry tree and one next to the corn/bean rows. That group had hatched in a clump of weeds in the part of the field we don't garden, had spread onto the corn and beans. Lance was up until 10:30, with flashlight, killing them as they hatched. Luckily, the organic spray we use on the tiny black bugs that tried to take out our broccoli and spinach works on these beetles.

Hatching in the weeds
There was another hatch today near the corn and beans. This could happen several times between now and the end of July. Beetle Patrol will be an around the clock endeavor!

So now we can add Blister Beetle to our list of pestilent visitors which includes frost (killed eighty tomato plants, damaged the potato plants, froze off the flowers from the peach, apricot and blackberry bushes), wind which threatened our baby pepper plants and tomato plants, tiny black bugs that nearly destroyed all of our spinach, broccoli and rendered our radish tops really ugly.

Lance waging war on the Blister Beetles
The frost damage did not have a happy ending, although the blackberries are sending up more flowers so we should get some berries this year. We saved a few of the spinach and broccoli plants. The windbreaks have taken the stress off the peppers and tomatoes. And thank goodness Lance stumbled on the Blister Beetle hatch. If he hadn't, we probably would've lost all our corn and beans. Happy ending. It isn't over and he's going to have to patrol the fields often, but at least we know about them.

We may still have corn knee-high by the 4th of July!


  1. I wonder whether blister beetles are the nasties that killed off most of my dill earlier in the spring... Down at 3500 feet, our gardening problems have been noxious weeds, rabbits and javelinas.

    1. Could be. They are a dull gray and not that easy to see but when missed they destroy very fast. So far we haven't had rabbits or javelinas!

  2. They sound pretty scary. Hope all is resolved with them soon and all is ripe in the garden.

    1. Thanks, Nancy. We've found out AZ has several kinds of blister beetle. Not sure if we'll get hatches of other strains or not. Time to talk to a big farm up the road!

  3. God, they sound awful. So glad you spotted them in time!

    1. Six hatches all together! Massive amounts of bugs! Hope it doesn't happen again.

  4. Here in Missouri, we've striped blister beetles, the most blistery kind, in massive numbers and multiple hatches. Boggles the mind. They got most of the tomatoes, peppers and cabbage and were starting on the squash before we found them. Diatomaceous Earth and Captain Jacks Dead Bug Brew (spinosad) seem to be cutting into their numbers but the war goes on.

    1. Lance used a Captain Jack's brew I think. Try to stay organic. We haven't seen anymore since the one hatch although we're told they can hatch again in July. Bummer you didn't catch them sooner. They are like the plague!